Six weeks of work for Smith Elementary School fourth graders culminated in three performances Thursday of a student-created play based on the book “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble” by William Steig.
Khara Cook, a fourth grade teacher at Smith, said students have been working on the production since the second week of school. She added students were in charge of creating the script, poetry, and narration for a four-act play based on “Sylvester and the Magic Pebble.”
Cook said each class was in charge of one act of the play, which centers on a donkey, Sylvester, who turns himself into a rock with a magic pebble and becomes trapped.
The production was made possible, Cook added, thanks to the Smith Arts Council, which received a Teach Ohio grant to bring in Sheela Das, artistic director of Creative Concepts in Music, and Candace Mazur-Darman, who served as the dramatic director for the play.
The students performed the finished show for fellow students Thursday morning and afternoon, before performing in front of their parents Thursday evening.
After the rehearsal Thursday, Mazur-Darman congratulated the students and said the huge applause they received from their schoolmates was deserved.
“Your audience was mesmerized,” she told the students.
Mazur-Darman added the style of the performance made it much more appealing to other students at Smith.
“The reason it’s such a success was that it was written by the kids, because they did the adaptation,” Mazur-Darman said. “I don’t know that it’s ever been done before.”
Das said her favorite part of the performance was seeing the students grow.
“I love seeing kids who never thought they could sing get on stage and share a song they created,” Das said. “It’s a confidence builder.”
Ella Mowery, a fourth grader who wrote one of the poems put to music for the play, said she enjoyed working on the show.
“I’ve enjoyed that we’ve gotten to wear costumes,” Mowery said. “I like that we got to come up with our own lines. I was nervous to act out in front of all the kids, but once I started doing it, I realized I shouldn’t be so nervous.”
Henry Rodgers, a fourth grader who played Sylvester in the first act, said he enjoyed the atmosphere during the play and learned a lot from it.
“I like how everybody is doing their act and most people have their lines memorized,” Rodgers said. “I didn’t think I’d be able to get all my lines memorized. I learned how to act and just say all my lines and make sure I’m saying all them correctly and that I’ve said them loud enough.”
Jaelin Babbitt, a fourth grader in charge of lights and artwork for the show, said that even though he did lots of design for the show, his favorite part was acting.
“I liked being the dog,” Babbitt said. “I liked the art, too, because it’s what I like to do in my free time.”
Cook said she was happy the students enjoyed creating and performing the show.
“I enjoy seeing kids’ faces just come alive,” Cook said. “I enjoy seeing them see their work produced. The words they have written have turned into dialogue, the poems they have written have turned into music, and seeing them make that connection between paper and the stage is just wonderful.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.